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Posts tagged ‘Lead and follow’

Say What? Part 2

So what does active listening entail? How do you do it?
Listed below are a few tips to help us all be better listeners and for those talking to know that we are doing more than a surface job of hearing what they say. Remember, hearing is what most everybody is able to do in a conversation, listening is what the sincere Leader does!
Pay attention.

Give the speaker your undivided attention, respect, and acknowledge the message. Recognize that non-verbal communication also “speaks” loudly.

  • Look at the speaker directly. Make eye contact if possible.
  • Put aside distracting thoughts. Don’t mentally prepare a rebuttal!
  • Avoid being distracted by environmental factors. Concentrate of what is being said.
  • “Listen” to the speaker’s body language. Observe the non-verbal’s but don’t let it take you away from the conversation.
  • Refrain from side conversations when listening in a group setting. Focus, focus, focus!

Show that you are listening.

Use your own body language and gestures to convey your attention.

  • Nod occasionally.
  • Smile and use other facial expressions.
  • Note your posture and make sure it is open and inviting. Don’t cross your arms or roll your eyes.
  • Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and uh huh.

Provide feedback.

Our life experiences and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said and put aside prejudices. This may require you to reflect what is being said and ask questions for clarification.

  • Reflect what has been said by paraphrasing. “What I’m hearing is.” and “Sounds like you are saying.” are great ways to echo back.
  • Ask questions to clarify certain points. “What do you mean when you say.” “Is this what you mean?”
  • Summarize the speaker’s comments periodically, just don’t cut off the speaker to do so.

Tip: If you find yourself responding emotionally to what someone said, say so, and ask for more information: “I may not be understanding you correctly, and I find myself taking what you said personally. What I thought you just said is ***; is that what you meant?”.

 Defer judgment.

Interrupting is a waste of time. It frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message.

  • Allow the speaker to finish no matter how you may feel about what is being said.
  • Don’t interrupt with counter arguments. This makes the entire conversation useless and puts those around you on edge and an understanding becomes farther away if not impossible.

Respond Appropriately.

Active listening is a model for respect and understanding. You are gaining information and perspective. You add nothing by verbally attacking the speaker or otherwise putting him or her down.

  • Be candid, open, and honest in your response but remain respectful. Remember that diversity is valuable in all areas of life.
  • Assert your opinions respectfully. Keep in mind that everyone has opinions and your’s is no more important that their’s.
  • Treat the other person as you would want to be treated in the same situation.
These are just a few ways to enhance your active listening skills, not to mention your personal and professional relationships.
Until next time, Listen, Listen and then Listen again!!!
Rod

The Villain in the Workplace!!

There is an evil villain that lurks in many workplaces today. Often times he/she can be found hiding in the shadows watching your every move, checking up on you and waiting for the prime time to pounce! Worse yet this villain often times does not hide at all but is right out in the open for all to see and often we feel powerless to do anything to stop him/her.  Who is this age-old villain I speak of in the workplace……. it’s………………MICROMANAGER!!!!

Some would say that occasionally micromanaging is needed. This would be true with a new Team Member or someone venturing into an area they have not encountered before. Otherwise a true Leader never has to micromanage because he/she knows the Team and each ones unique abilities and therefore assigns tasks to each one accordingly. Thus, the true Leader can trust the Team Member will move forward and succeed or at least the Leader knows that he/she and the Team Member have an open line of communication to the point the Team Member feels free to come and ask for help. No need for the Leader to be constantly checking in or making suggestions. He/She knows that the project will be done correctly and has already set up times to come together with the Team Member to discuss their progress and/or roadblocks they have encountered.

Are you wondering if you might be the villain, MICROMANAGER? Is your Leader the villain MICROMANAGER?

Here are some symptoms that can be observed in those who are micromanaging:

  • They appear frustrated that nobody is “getting it” or taking things as seriously as they do.
  • They want frequent status updates, even when things are operating normally.
  • They are quick to point out errors and mistakes of Team Members.
  • They have an overloaded task list, but their teams are looking for things to do.
  • They get upset if they’re not consulted before decisions are made.
  • They’ll take back delegated tasks to do them quicker or better themselves.
  • They assign a task and then go out first and do the task they assigned to someone else
  • They show up unannounced and often change directions you have given your team
So, what do you do if you are micromanaged? 70% of the respondents of a recent random survey feel they have been or currently are working for a micromanager. The sad part of this is that fact that as long as an organization is seeing results from the department that is being micromanaged, they often will not do anything to the one doing the micromanaging. If that happens, it is up to the Team Member to adjust, here are some options:
  • Take a critical look at your own performance. Is there anything you are doing that is adding to the problem? Self-identified micromanagers often claim that they wouldn’t have to micromanage if their people would just do what they were supposed to do. It may not fix the problem, but delivering your best may give you a little more breathing room.
  • Play by their rules. Admittedly, spending your day requesting permission for every action, justifying every decision or rewriting every sentence is not productive. However, fighting it will be even less so. Figure out the hot buttons, pet peeves and sticking points and try to abide. Sadly this may mean spending more time on the non-value-added appeasing tasks, but if you can streamline them, you may be able to create a workable relationship.
  • Try not to take it to heart. Assuming your work is sound, try not to let the constant nit-picking affect your self-confidence. The problem is the manager’s, not yours.
  • Talk to them about their behavior. You may want to attempt a frank, but respectful discussion with the Leader about the issue. Come prepared with recent examples and ideas for how you can work better together. Be aware though, that they may be unable to recognize that their behavior is problematic and their inherent lack of trust may create a contentious discussion.
  • Take it up with a “higher authority”  Often this approach may end up doing more harm than good. At the very heart of micromanagement is a lack of trust, and going over the Leader’s head, potentially making him/her look bad is a cardinal sin in the eyes of this type of Leader. Although it may buy some momentary relief, chances are you will suffer in the long run.
  • Leave the organization. This option may be the only choice in some situations. Assume your Leader is not going to leave. If you find that your work, your family and most likely your health and well-being are suffering because of a work situation that has become intolerable, looking for a better job may be the best thing you could do for yourself and your long-term career. Ultimately, you are in control of your own future and can make the decision to leave for greener pastures.
No one likes to be micromanaged because, generally speaking, if you were hired to do a job, trained to complete that job and have on open communication line to your Leader and the resources need to complete the job; then you should be allowed to do the job!
Until next time, if you are micromanaging…stop it! If you are being micromanaged, hang in there and send the Leader this blog………….
Rod

 

Grounding Beliefs

Grounding Beliefs

People’s beliefs affect their work when those beliefs hold them back. Grounding beliefs, or mental blocks, are thoughts that are not true and that damage our effectiveness. These tend to be based on ideas and norms we’ve acquired from our culture, upbringing, or peer group. We can have thousands of thoughts each day, and very many of these thoughts are repeating. That’s why, over time, we can start to believe our own version how the world is.Always remember, how we see things determines the actions we take that will result in the results we get. This is called a Paradigm. It is imperative we have the right mindset/paradigm so that we do not become a self-fulfilling prophecy at work or life.

Sometimes, what we believe is wrong. Perhaps we’ve interpreted someone’s actions or words incorrectly. Or perhaps we’ve learned the wrong lesson from a mistake in life, and, as a result, we’ve been unable or too fearful to pursue a similar action again.

Here are some examples of grounding beliefs:

  • Success is not possible. I don’t deserve to succeed.
  • I will fail.
  • Nobody likes me. Nobody cares.
  • It is impossible.
  • It’s my way or the highway.

The Leader’s job is to work with the Team to uncover and deal with self-limiting beliefs that are getting in the way of the Team Member’s job performance. The Team may be unaware of the real cause of these blocks, but may be aware of symptoms – such as lacking ambition, lacking hope, or lacking direction.

There are, of course, some deep beliefs that require assistance beyond coaching. But generally, once people recognize that one of their thoughts isn’t true and that it’s holding them back, they start to make progress and overcome the issue. A good technique for coaches to use to help deal with mental blocks is to explore the Team Member’s beliefs and thoughts, and identify the positive beliefs that are helping them progress, and the negative beliefs that are holding them back.

Strong Relationships

Leadership is about relationships! I suppose if you frequent this blog you could begin to get tired of seeing me type that phrase, but that phrase is the key to any Leader’s sustained career! Nothing can overcome the most difficult of situations in a workplace environment like a strong relationship based Team. Everyone in the office can still be uniques, have differences and even a few simple confrontations, but it will be the strong relationship that will help everyone understand each other better and will aid in a much quicker resolution to any and all problems in the office!

So, I guess you might be wondering what makes up the foundation of a good relationship in the workplace. There are several characteristics that make up healthy working relationships:

  • Trust – This is the foundation of every good relationship. When you trust your team and colleagues, you form a powerful bond that helps you work and communicate more effectively. If you trust the people you work with, you can be open and honest in your thoughts and actions, and you don’t have to waste time and energy “watching your back.” Trust is something that often is the hardest part of a relationship. Realize that to trust, one has to allow themselves to be vulnerable and that is a risky move. However, if you do not extend that trust, that open door to your emotions and feelings, you will never have any synergy, cohesiveness or support in your workplace. Yes, you might get hurt a time or two, but pain is a part of  learning, learning is a part of growing and growing is a part of success. If you want to be a success as a Leader, you will have to endure a bit of pain along the way. Take heart though, if you allow it to, it can make you a much stronger and better person because of the journey you will take with it!
  • Mutual Respect – When you respect the people whom you work with, you value their input and ideas, and they value yours. Working together, you can develop solutions based on your collective insight, wisdom and creativity. Mutual Respect is a huge part of Synergy, (the process of two or more minds coming together to create a solution that is greater than any one person could come up with on their own), which every working environment needs to have. Without respect or synergy in the workplace, you and your Team are going nowhere fast!
  • Diversity – People with good relationships not only accept diverse people and opinions, but they welcome them. Any workplace that respects, invites and encourages diversity will be the a workplace that experiences frequent success and will be a pool of idea generation! It is paramount for the Leader to instill in all Team Members that each and every one of us were created with a unique skill set and valuable insight. As everyone seeks to include all thought processes and viewpoints, collaboration and projects soar to new heights!
  • Open Communication – Whether we’re sending emails, text and IM’s, or meeting face-to-face it is crucial that we stay positive, constructive, open and honest The better and more effectively you communicate with those around you, the richer your relationships will be. All good relationships depend on open, honest communication. As a Leader you should only want the very best for your Team Members and often that will involve some very frank conversations. Even thought it is tempting to avoid the hard talks, it is detrimental to the Team as a whole. Just as in a personal friendship, if you are a true friend you will be honest, even with the hard stuff. The same holds true for your work relationships. If you have established the trust and respect with those around you, it opens the door for honest, open communication. However, if you have not established trust and respect, you in no way can have open communication. It is the trust and respect that will help you approach the other person with the hard subjects in a way that they know you are only trying to help them. It is also the key elements that will allow them to receive it in the manner you truly intend it to be.

If a Leader will utilize this recipe above, model it and instill it in his/her people, they can revolutionize the workplace environment. Until next time, keep building strong relationships!!

Rod

Questions, Questions and more Questions

Leadership naturally requires you to be a curious individual and the more curious you are, the more successful you and your Team will be!! During Coaching interactions with your Team, ask many questions to help your Team Member arrive at the root issues of performance and production limitations. Too often as a Leader we are tempted to talk more than listen when dealing with Team Members. Time is too valuable to expend by droning on with your own assumptions and theories about possible issues and problems the Team Member might be facing or having.

Listed below are questions that any Leader can use to dig deeper into the  success well during any Coaching interaction:

* “What one thing could I do to make you more effective in your role?”

* What roadblocks are holding you back? (or preventing your projects from moving ahead?)

* What’s the most important issue you are dealing with in your life right now?

* What does the competition do better than us?

* What do we do better than our competition?

* If you were the President of this Company, what’s the first thing you would change and why?

* What do we/you do better than anyone else?

* Looking at your personal productivity, what two things do we need to work on to improve your productivity?

* What are the two key behaviors you need to keep doing to remain successful?

* What one thing can we do to make our weekly meeting more effective?

* What are your top three goals for this/next month?

* What one thing can you do today that will have the greatest impact on you reaching your goals?

* If I could do just one thing for you as a result of this discussion, what would it be?

 

If you incorporate a few of these questions into your coaching interactions and then follow the path they lead you on, you will be well on your way to moving your Team and yourself to victory!!

Until next time, keep asking questions!

Rod

 

Work Culture

Culture is around you at work all of the time. Culture shapes your work enjoyment, your work relationships, your work processes and your overall satisfaction with your job. Culture is something that you as a Leader must be constantly aware of, and improving upon. Culture begins with you!

In many ways, culture is like personality. In a person, the personality is made up of the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, interests, experiences, upbringing, and habits that create a person’s behavior. Culture is made up of the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, attitudes, and behaviors shared by a group of people while being stirred and mixed daily by the tone set by the Leader.

Professors Ken Thompson (DePaul University) and Fred Luthans (University of Nebraska) highlight the following seven characteristics of culture.

  • Culture = Behavior. Culture is a word used to describe the behaviors that represent the general operating norms in your environment. Culture is not usually defined as good or bad, although aspects of your culture likely support your progress and success and other aspects impede your progress.A norm of accountability will help make your organization successful. A norm of spectacular customer service will sell your products and engage your employees. Tolerating poor performance or exhibiting a lack of discipline to maintain established processes and systems will impede your success.
  • Culture is Learned. People learn to perform certain behaviors through either the rewards or negative consequences that follow their behavior. When a behavior is rewarded, it is repeated and the association eventually becomes part of the culture. A simple thank you from an executive for work performed in a particular manner, molds the culture.
  • Culture is Learned Through Interaction. Employees learn culture by interacting with other employees. Most behaviors and rewards in organizations involve other employees. An applicant experiences a sense of your culture, and his or her fit within your culture, during the interview process. An initial opinion of your culture can be formed as early as the time the applicant inquires about employment.
  • Sub-cultures Form Through Rewards.. Employees have many different wants and needs. Sometimes employees value rewards that are not associated with the behaviors desired by managers for the overall company. This is often how subcultures are formed, as people get social rewards from coworkers or have their most important needs met in their departments or project teams.
  • People Shape the Culture. Personalities and experiences of employees create the culture of an organization. For example, if most of the people in an organization are very outgoing, the culture is likely to be open and sociable. If many artifacts depicting the company’s history and values are in evidence throughout the company, people value their history and culture. If doors are open, and few closed door meetings are held, the culture is unguarded. If negativity about supervision and the company is widespread and complained about by employees, a culture of negativity, that is difficult to overcome, will take hold.
  • Culture is Negotiated. One person cannot create a culture alone. Employees must try to change the direction, the work environment, the way work is performed, or the manner in which decisions are made within the general norms of the workplace. Culture change is a process of give and take by all members of an organization. Formalizing strategic direction, systems development, and establishing measurements must be owned by the group responsible for them. Otherwise, employees will not own them.
  • Culture is Difficult to Change. Culture change requires people to change their behaviors. It is often difficult for people to unlearn their old way of doing things, and to start performing the new behaviors consistently. Persistence, discipline, employee involvement, kindness and understanding, organization development work, and training can assist you to change a culture.
It is highly important for the Leader to be aware of the above contributing factors in Culture development. A Leader, through just a few encouraging acts or words can move a Culture quickly in a positive, uplifting direction. Conversely, a few unkind, destructive words can crash a Culture just as fast if not faster than the uplift from the encouraging Leader. Be cautious of the Culture you emit from your Leadership style. Remember, Leadership is about relationships and relationships build Culture!
Until next time, build an awesome Culture where you are!!
Rod

The Value of Others

Not long ago I was teaching a Leadership class and had touched on the fact that we need to care about the lives of those whom we lead. I wasn’t referring to becoming the employees Therapist or even their best friend, just caring about what made them tick and trying to find out a little about the issues that might stand in the way of top performance on the job. It seemed the group bought into this idea pretty well other than a couple of individuals that made the joking comment, “I don’t care what their problems are. Get to work and do your job!” We can all laugh at this and it can be a good bit of levity in a meeting setting. However, it is a motivation, profit and culture killer in the workplace!

I have worked in organizations that had that same attitude and I would like to share with you today what it feels like to be on the other side of that comment. Many of you will identify with me during the course of this blog and I would invite your comments on how you felt in a similar situation. Some, however, will be reading this and have made the comment listed above either in their mind or, (heaven forbid!) verbally. Please pledge today to never feel that way or make the comment ever again. In case you are new to this blog, my mantra is: Leadership is About Relationships! You can’t succeed without others!

When employed are XYZ Company I was young and had many things going on in my life. Often I would have issues that would distract from my production capability a little, to a lot! I knew what was going on in my head and was truly trying to not let it affect my performance but sometimes it seemed an uphill battle with no end in sight. This is a tale of two Supervisors, one we will call Tom and the other Bart.

Tom was a good man who cared about his employees and took a genuine interest in them as people, not just workers. Tom hired me and nurtured my strengths. Whenever I would have a bad day he would call me into his office or catch me out on the floor and pull me aside. He would ask me how my day was going and if anything new was happening in my life. If I did not offer anything of value up, he would tell me he noticed I was a bit different today and ask me if I thought I was acting any different. If I still didn’t give up anything he would ask me why I thought he was noticing a difference in me that day. Before long if I had not revealed what was going on in my life he would simply say, “Rod, you are not your usual self today and your production is off. I want you to remember whenever you come in our front doors to work that if you have anything you need to talk about, I’m here for your. I am not your Doctor, Lawyer or Therapist, but if you need an ear I will listen. You need and I need you to be at your best when you are on your job, so go back out there and do what Rod does best! Remember though, if you need to talk I am here. I want you to be successful and today you are not fully on that path.”

It never failed that eventually Tom and I talked. He never really gave me advise per se, but he listened and it made me feel better. He always helped me put my work/life balance in perspective and, because he cared about me, I grew in that company very quickly. Not only did I grow, but he rapidly became the Regional Manager over many locations and did very well for himself.

Let’s look now at Tom’s replacement Bart. Bart came into the picture after Tom moved up to a District Manager position. One day always sticks out to me as the defining description of Bart. As a matter of fact, to this very day, some 20 years later, every time I think of this man, I think of this one day. I had been promoted to the head of my department and it had become one of the top departments company wide through our teamwork under Tom. On this fateful day I was doing my job but for personal reasons was not on my game. Bart passed by the area I was working in and never said a thing. Which was not unusual, he never said, “Good Morning”, “Hello”, or anything of the sort when he arrived at work. Once he went by, he circled back and saw me standing and thinking. He approached and here was the entire conversation, “Long, you are a disgrace to this company! Seeing you stand there when you should be working makes me wonder why you were ever promoted in the first place! Tom isn’t here any longer to hold your hand so you better wise up or you are out of here! Now get to work and stop standing there like a tree!” Oh, I went to work alright! I soon went to work for another company!

Bart was fired after a year on his job when profits were down, sales plummeted, employee turnover was the norm and customer satisfaction was at an all-time low. Tom on the other hand, continued to rise and everything he touched turned to gold.

The simple truth for Leaders is: Leadership is About Relationships!!

Until next time, keep working on your relationships!

Rod